That hardly seems fair,’ I protested.
‘Did you really expect life to be fair to you, Pol?’ He replied.
‘But if I make it, it’s mine, isn’t it? I should be able to do anything I want with it, shouldn’t I?’
‘That’s not the way it works, Pol,’ Beltira told me. ‘Don’t experiment with it. We love you too much to lose you.’
‘What else is it that I’m not supposed to do?’
‘Don’t attempt the impossible,’ Belkira said. ‘Once you’ve committed your will to something, you have to go through with it. You can’t turn the will off once you’ve unleashed it. It’ll keep drawing more and more out of you to try to get the job done, and it’ll eventually take so much out of you that your heart will stop, and then you’ll die.’
‘How am I supposed to know what’s possible and what isn’t?’
‘Come to one of us before you start,’ Beltira said. ‘Talk it over with us and we’ll let you know if it’s all right.’
‘Nobody tells me what to do!’ I flared.
‘Do you want to die?’ Beldin demanded bluntly.
‘Of course not.’
‘Then do as you’re told,’ he growled. ‘No experimenting on your own. Don’t do anything this way without consulting with one of us first. Don’t try to pick up a mountain range or stop the sun. We’re trying to protect you, Pol. Don’t be difficult.’
‘Is there anything else?’ I was a little sullen at that point.
‘You’re very noisy,’ Belkira said bluntly.
‘What do you mean, “noisy”?’
‘When you do something this way, it makes a sound we can hear. When you made all that birdseed, it sounded like a thunderclap. Always remember that we’re not the only ones in the world with this particular gift. There’ll be times when you won’t want to announce the fact that you’re around. Here, I’ll show you.’
There was a large rock not far from the Tree, and uncle Belkira looked at it and frowned slightly. Then the rock seemed to vanish, and it instantly reappeared about a hundred yards away.
It wasn’t exactly a noise. I felt it more than I heard it, but it still seemed to rattle my teeth.
‘Now do you see what I mean?’ Belkira asked me.
‘Yes. That’s quite a sound, isn’t it?’
‘I’m glad you enjoyed it.’
They went on piling restrictions on me for quite some time. ‘Is that all?’ I asked finally. They were beginning to make me tired.
‘There’ll be more, Pol,’ Beltira said. “Those are just the things you need to know right now. Like it or not, your education’s just begun. You’ve got to learn to control this gift. Study very hard, Pol. Your life probably depends on it.’
‘Just smile and agree with them, Polgara,’ mother’s voice advised me. ‘I’ll take care of your education myself. Smile and nod and keep the peace when they try to instruct you, Pol. Don’t upset them by doing anything unusual while they’re around.’
‘Whatever you say, mother,’ I agreed.
And that’s how I really got my education. My uncles were frequently startled by just how fast I picked things up. They no sooner mentioned a particular feat than I did it – flawlessly. I’m sure they all thought they had a budding – but very dirty – genius on their hands. The truth of the matter was that mother had already taught me those rudimentary tricks. My mind and mother’s mind had been linked since before I was born, and so she was in a much better position to gauge the extent of my understanding. This made her a far better teacher than my uncles. It was about then that uncle Beldin left on some mysterious errand, and so my education fell on the twins’ shoulders – at least they thought it did. In actuality, mother taught me most of what I know.
I naturally told my sister about what had happened. Beldaran and I didn’t really have any secrets from each other.
Her face became rather wistful. ‘What was it like?’ she asked me.
‘I’ll show you how,’ I told her. Then you can find out for yourself.’
She sighed. ‘No, Pol,’ she replied. ‘Mother told me not to.’
‘Told? You mean she’s finally talking to you?’
‘Not when I’m awake,’ Beldaran explained. ‘Her voice comes to me when I’m dreaming.’
‘That’s a terribly cumbersome way to do it.’
‘I know, but there’s a reason for it. She told me that you’re supposed to do things. I’m just supposed to be.’
To be what?’
‘She hasn’t told me yet. She’ll probably get around to it one of these days.’
And that sent me away muttering to myself.
Mother told me about several of the things I might be capable of doing, and I tried them all. Translocation was a lot of fun, actually, and it taught me how to muffle the noise. I spent whole days bouncing rocks here and there about the Vale.
There were many tricks mother explained to me that I wasn’t able to practice, since they required the presence of other people, and aside from the twins and Beldaran, nobody else was around. Mother rather sternly told me not to experiment with Beldaran.
What my uncles chose to call my ‘education’ took me away from my Tree and my birds for extended periods of time, and I didn’t like that very much. I already knew about most of what they were telling me anyway, so it was all very tedious and monotonous for me.
‘Keep your temper, Polgara,’ mother told me on one occasion when I was right on the verge of an outburst.
‘But this is all so boring!’ I protested.
‘Think about something else, then.’
‘What should I think about?’
‘Have the twins teach you how to cook,’ she suggested. ‘Humans like to stick their food in a fire before they eat it. It’s always seemed like a waste of time to me, but that’s the way they are.’
And so it was that I started to get two educations instead of one. I learned all about translocation and about spices at almost the same time. One of the peculiarities of our gift is the fact that imagination plays a very large part in it, and I soon found that I could imagine what a given spice would add to whatever dish I was preparing. In this particular regard I soon even outstripped the twins. They measured things rather meticulously. I seasoned food by instinct – a pinch, a dollop, or a handful of any spice always seemed to work out just right.